It's an accepted, but not-often-discussed, fact of the egg production industry that hundreds of millions—300 million, according to some estimates—of male chicks are sent to the grinder in the United States each year. It's a cruel reality, but for egg producers it makes practical sense—after all, boy chicks can't lay eggs.
Egg producers around the country are banding together to seek a solution to this mass destruction. The United Egg Producers announced earlier this year that they would take steps to end the practice of male chick culling by 2020– and the answer might lie in the hands of new technology.
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Some producers are already taking steps towards a less murderous, preventative solution. Vital Farms works with a company called Novatrans to identify the sex of a fertilized egg weeks before it enters into incubation and starts to develop beyond an embryonic stage. According to NPR, a couple of days after an egg is laid, even if it's fertilized, "It's still possible to sell the eggs containing male embryos as regular edible eggs."